George Will

Time was, presidents were held to higher standards than comedians. Today's liberals favor indignation over information, but lawyer Obama must know that since 1952 federal law has said: "Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him."

In today's debate, the threshold question is: Should the nation have immigration laws? Until 1875, there were none. There are strict libertarians who believe there should be none. But the vast majority who do not favor completely open borders believe there should be some laws restricting who can become residents, and presumably they believe such laws should be enforced.

Once Americans are satisfied that the borders are secure, the immigration policies they will favor will reflect their -- and the law enforcement profession's -- healthy aversion to the measures that would be necessary to remove from the nation the nearly 11 million illegal immigrants, 60 percent of whom have been here for more than five years. It would take 200,000 buses in a bumper-to-bumper convoy 1,700 miles long to carry them back to the border. Americans are not going to seek and would not tolerate the police methods that would be needed to round up and deport the equivalent of the population of Ohio.

Meanwhile, hysteria about domestic fascism is unhelpful, even though it is a liberal tradition. In his 1944 State of the Union address, FDR identified opponents of his domestic agenda as fascists. Declaring that his "one supreme objective" was "security," including "economic security, social security, moral security," he issued a dire warning: Woodrow Wilson's progressive policies had been frustrated by "rightist reaction" and "if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called 'normalcy' of the 1920s -- then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home."

Today's hysterics are unoriginal. But they learned their bad manners from a master.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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